The Federal Government has released draft legislation to amend the Australian Consumer Law (ACL). The draft is intended to give effect to recommendations made by Consumer Affairs Australia and New Zealand (CAANZ) last year to strengthen consumer protection in Australia. The proposed changes include:
- Public companies will no longer be excluded from unconscionable conduct protections.
- Easing the evidentiary requirements on people bringing proceedings under the ACL, by allowing them to rely on admitted facts and findings of facts in earlier proceedings.
- Enhancing the powers of the ACCC to gather information in relation to unfair contract terms and product safety, including power to require information from third parties.
- New mandatory text for warranties against defects.
- Fees or charges associated with pre-selected options must be included in the single ‘headline’ price.
Notably, the draft legislation does not include any increased financial penalties for contraventions of the ACL, despite the strong recommendations of CAANZ in its Report.
The draft legislation is open for submissions until 28 February 2018.